What would it look like if the Browns traded for Mike Wallace?


There was a sense of relief that the Cleveland Browns didn’t sign Mike Wallace last off-season after the details of his contract emerged. The fact is, as badly as the Cleveland Browns needed help at receiver, it was an absurdly large contract. How absurd? Now that there’s been a shakeup in the Dolphins front office there are rumors via Jason La Canfora that the Dolphins would like to explore the idea of taking an $8.8 million cap hit for the right to trade Wallace right now. So, without advocating it, I thought it might be interesting to look at the financial implications of trading for Wallace.

I’ve often pointed out that the Browns are taking a giant cap hit for trading Trent Richardson, but they at least got a first-round pick from the Colts. In order for the Dolphins to get a trade partner, they’ll have to take an afterthought kind of draft pick, possibly even a sixth- or seventh-round choice, I’m guessing. Then they’ll blow $8.8 million remaining on Wallace’s signing bonus on their cap this year. That’s somewhat helpful for the team receiving Wallace’s services as they don’t have to pay that money. Still, Wallace’s existing deal is big.

Here’s how Wallace’s contract plays out for the rest of the duration according to Spotrac.

  • 2014 $15 million ($50,000 in misc bonus)
  • 2015 $9.85 million ($50,000 in misc bonus)
  • 2016 $11.45 million ($50,000 in misc bonus)
  • 2017 $11.45 million ($50,000 in misc bonus)

No matter how you slice and dice it, it’s safe to say that you’re going to be overpaying for Mike Wallace. This might be especially unwise to do in a season like the Browns are facing with as many draft picks as they have in such a reputedly “receiver rich” draft class. Those caveats aside, there are a couple things to keep in mind. First of all, if the Browns trade for Wallace, he’s just a hired gun with only a $3 million guarantee after 2014. That’s a heft price tag for one year to be sure and probably not worth it to even the most receiving-starved team in the league.

But, there’s also an option to convert those guaranteed dollars to a signing bonus. Let’s say you give the Dolphins a seventh rounder in exchange for Wallace and then upon getting him in Cleveland, you convert $10 million of his 2014 salary to signing bonus. Now his contract looks like this:

  • 2014 $5 million salary + $2.5 million signing bonus + $50k misc bonus = $7.5 million cap number
  • 2015 $9.85 million salary + $2.5 million signing bonus + $50k = $12.35 million cap
  • 2016 $11.45 million salary + $2.5 million signing bonus + $50k  = $13.95 million cap
  • 2017 $11.45 million salary + $2.5 million signing bonus + $50k  = $13.95 million cap

The other thing to keep in mind is that the Browns have Josh Gordon under his rookie deal until the end of the 2015 season. That might make it a bit more palatable to overpay for a guy like Mike Wallace for two years. Then if you cut him after that so you can extend Gordon, the Browns have to take a $5 million cap hit in dead money to get out of paying him just north of $22 million over the next two years. The Browns will have paid Wallace basically $25 million in cash for two years of service, which is a whole lot. Still, it’s a bet on Mike Wallace as he finishes his twenties and before he hits his thirties.

I don’t expect this is something the Browns will do after laying it all out, but it’s still a fun exercise. And if the Browns did decide to overpay to have Mike Wallace for a couple years, it’s more fun to look at it from their perspective than the Dolphins’ perspective. They’re the team that’s currently on the hook for a guy who is scheduled to count over $17 million on their cap this season. He also represents a figure of $23.8 million in dead money if the Dolphins were to cut him outright. Not an enviable position for a team with a receiver who didn’t break 1000 yards and scored only five touchdowns in his first season on his contract.

  • DontbringLBJback

    Call me crazy, but I’d rather have Greg Little for 850k than Mike Wallace for 12.5 million. Wallace has been known to have butter fingers as well. I really don’t have a problem with Little being the 4th or 5th WR on the depth chart, especially at such a low salary figure.

  • Chief Blahoo

    Yeah I would hate it if we acquired Mike Wallace. He makes WAY too much money. Would rather have Desean jackson who is a bit cheaper and better, imo.

  • TNB

    With the draft coming up, and this is really just a peeve, there’s obviously a lot of talk about trades and picks. Much like in the last thread, there’s a lot of speculation involved. However, everyone seems to be completely overvaluing these bottom round picks. People from the seventh, and even the sixth round, really rarely ever turn into more than role players or solid depth than anything. The dolphins already have this money on the books, and while ita fun to speculate and hypothesize, I can’t envision a world where they would part ways with someone who’s a potential superstar receiver for what amounts to a practice squad player and a little more financial flexibility next year, when this FA markets basically already cropped.

    This isn’t a negative comment on the article, as I think that exploring putting a guy like Wallace opposite Gordon would be an amazing idea and I really liked the insight of contract restructuring, but more of a note on what people seem to think things are worth. I think we tend to overvalue even mid picks, such as fourth, because we only really look forward to the draft in Cleveland. I can’t wait for the day when we, as fans, scoff at fourth round offers for established players.

  • saggy

    i think Desean Jackson would be a great fit. I can see him getting $7-9 million. give him a 3-year deal, $18 million guaranteed. His value is low right now, and I think the Browns would be wise to kick the tires.

  • Garry_Owen

    No, thank you. With this draft, there is absolutely no reason to pick up a guy like Wallace. None. Zip. Nadda.
    I’d like to speak to Sammy?
    This is sammy.
    Welcome to Cleveland, Sammy.

  • The contract is so bad though that it eliminates so many trade partners. It’s not a seller’s market. I look at Matt Schaub going for a 6th rounder and I think it’s instructive. Yes Schaub had an awful year and has a big contract too, but he’s going to be the Raiders’ starter. That only cost a 6th and it’s the most important position on the field. Also the Titans haven’t been able to trade Chris Johnson yet because of his contract.

    Anyway, I just think it’s a buyer’s market.

  • MrCleaveland

    On opening day of last season, the Dolphins came to Cleveland as an underdog and beat us 23-10. Instead of being happy that his team scored a big upset win on the road, Wallace sulked and whined to the media that he didn’t get enough balls thrown to him. We don’t need guys like that. Let Miami wallow in buyer’s remorse.

  • MrCleaveland

    Didn’t Jackson sulk on the sidelines one game and basically quit?

    Don’t need people like that.

  • Good memory! I totally forgot that.

  • saggy

    The Browns need guys who can play, period. This guy can play.

  • saggy

    I’ll take Neither for $200, Alex.

  • Harv 21

    See? Even after scoring that huge contract what he really cares about is being productive and helping his team.

    [“Very nice, thank you … NEXT!! Who else wants to audition for the part of Wallace’s agent?!”]

  • MrCleaveland

    Then why does Philly want to dump him? They know him better than anyone.

    You’re right that the Browns need guys who can play. We don’t need guys who decide they don’t want to play because their outsized ego is bruised.

  • Harv 21

    Ok, I’ll try, ahem … “Well, his attitude is about baseline for deep threat NFL receivers. You could do worse!”

  • Harv 21

    oh, for the love of pete. Little has the dropsies and can’t get open either. For $850k I’d rather take Andra Davis, Kevin Johnson (either one), Michael Jackson (either one), JaJuan Dawson or Andre King. As they are right now, no workouts, no stretching, no Grecian Formula. No re-animation.

  • dwhit110

    Everyone else is saying it, but I’ll say it too. Not in this draft, not with 2 first rounders. Even if they pass on Watkins, there should be a great WR option available at #26.

  • TNB

    I think that schaubs trade is an anomaly, because its almost fairly obvious Houston wants to draft, or pursue, a different QB to play a different system. Its easier that way for them, so they gained something instead of nothing. Again, I dont disagree that its not a buyers market, but some examples aren’t the norm. I really don’t think Chris Johnson hasn’t been traded, but because the market for a rb isn’t as big, but again were debating a lot of insider knowledge that is fairly speculative.

    I dont think you’re wrong, and I don’t think its not a scenario worth exploring, I just think that people overvalue what is and isn’t a true commodity.

  • TNB

    Putting someone on the block isn’t dumping them. In fact, being this close to the draft, its pretty smart for them to say deseans on the block. It can change strategies for a lot of teams, if they think someone is going to trade for desean or if they want to change theirs and trade for him. Someone might also miss out on getting a deal for their top 3-4wr choices and package a deal for Jackson where they might vastly, if not slightly, overpay. The eagles have nothing to lose by saying it, just like saying Mathis is on the block, so its got a lot of upside.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Agreed lets hope they add another WR through the draft which means we can bid Little adieu or make him the #4 option at WR at the worst.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    They do I’d just prefer one of the talented rookie WRs who can be drafted which saves money to be used elsewhere.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Or Mike or possibly Marquise.

  • Kildawg

    Hasn’t Michael Jackson been dead for a couple years now or do I have the wrong one?

  • Kildawg

    Hasn’t Michael Jackson been dead for a couple years now or do I have the wrong one?

  • Kildawg

    The Texans were just going to cut Schaub anyway, therefore they got something for nothing via a desperate team with holes galore wanting to make a sizeable splash in the free agency frenzy. Now this team (the Oakland Raiders for those that haven’t guessed it yet) is looking to offload Terelle Pryor.

  • Alex

    If you mean either the music one or the beer one, then you’re right.

  • Jordan Matthews. Philly Brown. Donte Moncrief. Mike Campanaro. Willie Snead. Allen Robinson. There’s crazy value in later rounds. (Not saying Matthews or Moncrief was be around in third round.)

    I still like me some Mike Evans but if you tell me I’m getting JoMatthews or Moncrief later in the draft and you’re grabbing Clowney or Robinson at #4… yeah, sure, makes sense.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    I agree there are plenty of options when it comes to WRs in this draft which is why I think you may see an OL go at #4. I’m personally hoping Clowney is gone by #4 that way there’s never a ?, good or bad, about what may have been.

    I’ve been a huge Sammy Watkins fan but part of me think Mike Evans may be the better compliment to Gordon. I think it’s his size that is so alluring. Size and yet still has the speed.